On Tuesday, a huge horde of ancient Celtic gold coins was stolen from the Celtic and Roman Museum of Manching, Germany, according to the Bavarian state police. Authorities estimate the value of the coins, which together weighed about 4 kilograms (8.8 lb), at more than $1 million.
“The loss of the Celtic treasure is a disaster,” Bavarian Minister of Science and Arts Markus Blume told German news agency dpa. “A testament to our history, gold coins are irreplaceable.”
The 483 coins were first found in 1999 in ancient celtic settlement known as the Oppidum of Manching. Archaeologists quickly realized just how sensational the find was: the coins represent the largest Celtic gold find of the 20th century. The hoard is also the subject of ongoing scholarly research into Celtic trade networks.
The The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports it that the circumstances of the robbery were straight out of a Hollywood movie. To avoid raising the alarm, the burglars cut telecommunications cables which caused internet and telephone outages throughout Manching.
The robbery it reportedly lasted only 9 minutes.
“The museum is actually a high-security location. But all connections with the police have been severed,” Manching mayor Herbert Nerb explained to the Bavarian newspaper. “Pros were at work here.”
Police are looking for witnesses who may have seen suspicious people near the museum or have other information that could lead to the recovery of the treasure.
Rupert Gebhard, who heads the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich, estimated the treasure’s value at about 1.6 million euros ($1.65 million). “Archaeologists are hoping the coins will remain in their original state and reappear again at some point,” he said, adding that they are well documented and would be difficult to sell.
“The worst option, melting up, would mean a total loss for us,” he explained, noting that the material value of the gold itself would only be around €250,000 at current market prices.